The annual Car-of-the-Year season has begun. Fittingly, the first off the mark is Motor Trend magazine, the originator of the concept.
The 2013 Motor Trend Sport/Utility of the Year is the all-new, second-generation Mercedes-Benz GL-Class SUV.
It's the second time the GL has won the award, having also done so with the first-generation model in 2007.
The full article, which calls the GL "the best the luxury SUV class has ever seen," will be published in the December issue of Motor Trend.
Built exclusively in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the GL was the first full-size SUV from Mercedes-Benz. The 2013 GL offers a broad range of models, including the GL350 BlueTEC turbodiesel (240 hp, 455 lb-ft), the GL450 (362 hp, 406 lb-ft), the GL550 (429 hp, 516 lb-ft), and the high-performance GL63 AMG (550 hp, 560 lb-ft).
To be eligible for the Motor Trend award, a vehicle must be all-new or significantly redesigned and must have made its retail debut within the past 12 months.
Rather than conducting a direct comparison test, Motor Trend evaluated each of 11 contenders individually against six criteria – advancement in design; engineering excellence, efficiency, safety, value and performance of intended function.
"We had an extremely competitive field for Motor Trend's 2013 Sport/Utility of the Year," said Edward Loh, Editor-in-Chief of Motor Trend. "However, the Mercedes-Benz GL truly outshone the field and emerged as the clear winner by the end of our program.
"The goal of the award is to name the SUV that best meets our six criteria, and none of the new 2013 SUV or crossover models managed to do that better than the GL," he added.
Having inaugurated the Car-of-the-Year concept in 1949, Motor Trend added the Sport/Utility of the Year Award in 1999.
The Automobile Journalist Association of Canada's (AJAC) week-long annual TestFest to choose the Best New vehicles in 11 categories and, ultimately, the overall Canadian Car and Utility Vehicle of the Year begins this weekend in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.
AJAC's category winners will be announced at a press conference in Niagara Falls on October 25, 2012 and the overall Canadian Car and Utility Vehicle of the Year will be revealed at the Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS) in Toronto on February 14, 2013.